Saturday, January 9, 2010

Having fun with barracuda theater critic, Robrt Pela, of the New Times

After I read an article by Robrt Pela, the theater critic, of the New Times, this week that so totally reflects his contemptuous attitude toward 'theater people' as he calls them (us) I decided to have a little fun with him. Instead of gnashing my teeth I did what I have done for years when a theater critics gets my ire up, I wrote a letter to the newspaper which I sincerely hope they publish. I entitled it 'barracuda theater critic' so there would be no mistaking my opinion of him.
But first let me quote a few choice lines from his article which caused me to rush with a cry of years of pent up rage to my e-mail.
He was to a Holiday party always hoping that no one would try to talk to him about theater. But sure enough, the worst happened, and he says "I was being grilled by this couple, the female half of which had sprayed a cheerful stripe of fluorescent red into her fried-blond hair." He is only getting a good start here. Her husband eventually asks him if a production is good Pela has seen they might go to. Pela writes, "I silently wished for the thousandth time that day that I possessed the power to explode a stranger's head with just an impatient smile." (Now these are real people he is talking about here)
"Yeah right, you hate everything," a tall skinny guy who had been eavesdropping snorted, Pela continues to write.
I Gerry was so thankful there was somebody there who was not intimidated by Mr. Pela. He was put on the defensive and goes through a carefully chosen list of productions he did approve of, but then the guy says, "I read your review of Revenge of the King. You should really go easy on theater people!"
That idea did not set well with Mr. Pela and he writes, "I figured I am not going to take career advice from a drunk guy in a diaper, so I sincerely patted him on his big hairy shoulder and said, "No!"
He more or less ends his article by writing "Go easy on theater people, my Great Aunt Fanny!"
Now can you imagine a guy like this going easy on some hapless local playwright's idea of a play, like mine for example? Never! Going easy on it would be tolerating its very existence in his world, with him expected to actually review something sure to be just horrible. Oh no, no! So this is what I wrote to the paper:

GERRY'S LETTER: "It is no wonder I have to put my plays up on You Tube to get them out to the public with local theater critics as arrogant as Robrt Pela to rip them apart. Theater critics who believe themselves to be of such a high professional caliber can by writing their acid reviews persuade any and all local theater companies never to try to feature the work of a local amateur playwright to torture their heightened sensitivities. It takes newspaper SUPPORT to help such risks to succeed unfortunately and Phoenix newspaper theater critics have for years kept the public safe from any local amateur attempts to write plays. So I refer you all to You Tube to see a play improv or a reading by Grandma Playwright here who will grow old and die with her plays unproduced in Phoenix thanks to Barracuda Pela and his kind. Just keep those Tonys and Pultizers coming, theater companies, because he is right up there in their class and the only play he wants to see is by the professionals. Amateur playwrights make him shudder and go for evisceration!"

I chuckled to myself all night. They might print it. They have printed my letters of protest about Mr. Pela's sneers before. We playwrights get so we can't take such attitudes from the press lying down anymore. You would think hard times for the newspapers would teach Mr. Pela that most readers hate sneers. But Pela always appeals to the snob in a reader. He hopes there are enough readers out there who love a put down artist like him and will get a kick out of his attacks on idiots who presume to be theater people.
If a theater critic ever learned that readers love hometown heroes and will put up with a lot of mistakes just to see local people come to the forefront as real players! If only they were smart enough! Sneer, sneer, Mr. Pela. Theater critics are determined to keep us playwrights down, but I have been ingenious enough to put my plays up on Youtube if nobody in Phoenix would produce them. I have got six of them up there now, Blue, Daughters of the Shadow Men, Happy Hello, Sad Goodbye, Red and Dandy: Outlaw Love Story, and Aunt Santhea. Check out my Youtube channel GerryKing40!
But I am considered way too high of risk for any theater company in Phoenix to produce, that is how scared of the critics they are. Especially now days when lack of support for a production could be disaster for a theater company. They are not going to take a chance on a new play with newspaper critics they think would tear it apart. It's just not done. So instead they do plays that have won Tonys and Pulitzers. They know the local critics won't be foolish enough to sneer at them for fear of making a fool out of themselves. Any other playwright is fair game.
Unfortunately theater companies have to depend on newspaper support. There has always been this uneasy alliance between newspaper theater critics and theater, and some of the more savage ones, New York's Frank Rich comes to mind, have earned a reputation as a killer of playwrights nation wide. Pela is a Frank Rich kind of theater critic except he will not even review your play if he thinks he might not like it. He will say you are a friend, and for that reason he will stay away! He will not support it at all! He will be a sometime critic rather than change his barracuda ways.
A play is not made to be done in ten minute segments but when you have got a theater community that you can't break into after a life time of trying, you get desperate and inventive at 78 years old. I think I will get famous in spite of those bastards. Others have done it on Youtube, and when I do I will tell them how narrow minded a theater critic is who can't see a good reason to encourage and support local 'theater people' he considers amateurs. Even if these are the very people he depends on to read his stuff. Does the New Times even want readers who like the paper? I sometimes wonder. Publishers seem to have a death wish. Michael Lacey, are you listening? He is the publisher of the New Times. I have even written letters protesting his writing. But don't worry, he won't read this blog. He would not stoop so low.
Newspaper people will ignore the power of the Internet to go out around them and get people famous that according to them never should have been contenders. Now I see the newspaper people as locked into a battle with the Internet people, but the Internet and such sites as Youtube are more people friendly. I am counting on Youtube more than I can on the newspaper to get my talent out to the world. Show I deserve to be a contender.

P.S. I just had an inspiration. I sent a copy of this entry to Michael Lacey, publisher of the New Times! Night all. Now I am going to bed to sleep the sleep of the just!

P.S. Photo in header taken this very morning after I went down to Doc's and told him about it all.


Herrad said...

Hi Gerry,
Please come by my blog and pick up your award.
Herrad said...

That is one mean theater critic. I wonder if the Barracuda's are also playing a role ripping apart every person or play they meet. Do they imagine that is the best thing to do? No one else has such nerve! Something in this critic role that seems to bring out the worst. That was quite the response. You matched his role.

Connie said...

I hope you get famous in your lifetime-you deserve it!!!

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